Distillations Blog

The Distillations blog is the place for regular updates from the intersections of science, culture, and history.

Helitrim trimming potentiometers on the moon
The Folly of the Martian Back-Up Plan
August 17, 2018

Why resources spent building a colony on the red planet would be a waste of money.

Carleen Hutchins: Rogue Luthier
March 09, 2018

Eschewing tradition, some instrument makers are redefining what a violin, viola, or cello is.

Fit as a Fiddle: The Remarkable Lives of Cremonese Violins
December 01, 2017

About half of the 1,100 instruments hand-crafted by the famous Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari were lost or destroyed over the last 300 years. Should the instruments that remain be played or preserved?

A Covert Success Story
June 22, 2017

In the 1950s, a devious oil company created a television show to flatter industrialists and win their business.

A cover for the 1980 Atari 2600 game Space Invaders.
Where Is Everybody?
September 19, 2016

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence has been going on for decades, but so far no one has found anything. As the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi once asked, where is everybody?